Note to readers: Barry Schraders DeKalb
County Life column will appear every other Tuesday.
This close to Christmas Eve, most people are too busy to
read columns or only want to think about the holiday ahead. So
I was pleased when Carol McKay flew in from Washington, D.C.,
to bring some special holiday souvenirs to share, and it gave
me a column topic.
Carol is the daughter of the late NIU Director of Bands
Gordon Bird. He passed away this summer and, in his memory, Carol
became one of the major sponsors of the DeKalb Municipal Bands
160th anniversary holiday concert at the Egyptian Theatre. She
also brought part of his White House holiday card collection,
as well as some of her own, to display at the Oak Crest DeKalb
Area Retirement Centers Christmas Tree Walk.
Over the years, I always asked Gordon to show me his holiday
cards from the first family, one of the perks of having a son-in-law
on the White House staff. He also collected eight years of cards
from President Ronald Reagan, since Gordons daughter served
there, as well. My favorite is President Barack Obamas
dog, Bo, romping in the snow with the White House in background.
That was the year before they welcomed a second dog named Sunny.
Carol has some large 9-by-11-inch versions of the holiday
card photo or painting from both the Reagan and Obama years.
Since they were a limited edition only for staff, friends and
close associates of the first families, they are collectible
and are suitable for framing.
The White House ornaments she brought to display (they
will remain on exhibit at Oak Crest in the gathering place until
the first week of January) are purchased from the White House
Historical Association and even available on the website.
This years card depicts two doors adorned with wreaths
on the front, which unfold to show the festive interior of the
White House, and the two dogs in the foreground. Commissioned
to do the painting was a Connecticut artist Emily Buchanan. The
campaign committee of the political party of each president now
pays for the card printing and mailing. They send somewhere around
a million cards to supporters, friends and officeholders around
the nation. So in DeKalb County, the Democratic chairman Mark
Pietrowski (who just relinquished that position to become chairman
of the DeKalb County Board) received one again this year.
Now there is a first with this years greetings
an interactive video: On the back is something called a quick
response code, a little digital printed square that can be scanned,
using a smartphone, and it reveals a video message. For those
who dont have that application on their phone, to see what
I mean, go to www.whitehouse.gov/Holiday-Card-2014.
Carol McKay holds an enlarged holiday greeting card
from the Obamas, something now discontinued but very collectible
from past presidents over the years. Behind her is the exhibit
of White House cards and ornaments from her family's collection
now on display at Oak Crest, 2944 Greenwood Acres Drive in DeKalb.QR bar code to scan with a Smartphone App and hear
Obamas holiday greetings on video.
Front and back of First Family Christmas card this year.
Inside of Christmas.